We Need a Cure

A Short Easter Message by Pastor Daniel Kriss for the Alexandra Standard Newspaper (8/4/20)
At the time of writing this, there are 5635 positive cases of Coronavirus in Australia, and tragically, 34 people have died. The world as we know it has changed, and this Easter will be remembered for many years to come.
 
With so much uncertainty in the world, I believe it is best to remind you of a changeless truth that transcends our current situation, namely, the fact that Jesus came into the world to rescue us from a more serious virus than Covid-19, the universal disease of sin.
 
Unlike the Coronavirus, sin has a 100% strike rate and every person tests positive to this soul-threatening malady. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and are guilty of breaking God’s law. The good news, however, is that there is a cure. Presently, doctors and medical teams all over the world are working on vaccines and antidotes to combat Covid-19, and I am sure they will have success soon. When it comes to the universal problem of sin, the Bible tells us that the cure has already been provided in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
 
No doubt you are familiar with the “Easter Story,” but do you know the reason why there was a bloodied man crucified on a cross? The answer is to save you from your sin. Because God is holy and He cannot allow sin to enter into His presence, He sent His perfect Son, Jesus, to die on the cross as a substitute for all who would believe on Him. His death and subsequent resurrection opened the way for sinful man to come to God, be cleansed, and given eternal life. This gift of forgiveness must be received by faith, it cannot be worked for.
 
My prayer is that at this most unusual time in our history, you might come to know the real meaning of Easter!
 
PASTOR DANIEL KRISS


Booklets & Study Guides

Exciting Announcement: New! Booklets & Study Guides

Glorious Gospel Ministries has just published three new study guides, and one more is on its way as I write this.  These can be found in the “Study Guides” menu above or by clicking here.
 
The purpose of publishing these booklets  is to provide biblical, helpful, and comprehensive  treatment of a particular subject in the Scriptures.  They are well-researched and all references are included as a footnote at the bottom of each page. 
 
These publications are not copyright and distribution is encouraged. 
 
Check back regularly as new studies are being designed and uploaded most weeks.
 
Praying these resources with be a blessing to you!
 
With love and affection,
 

Pastor Daniel Kriss

 


A Biblical Response to the Coronavirus (SARS COVID-2; COVID-19)

BRIEF SUMMARY OF COVID-19

The first reports of this new strain of Coronavirus were made in December 2019, and emerged in China, specifically in Wuhan province. The virus has been referred to as SARS Covid-2, and the disease as COVID-19. The observed symptoms are fever, cough, muscle aches, headache, vomiting, and diarrhoea. These symptoms are similar to those of a flu, particularly similar to influenza.[1]

The rate of transmission and the lack of a medically endorsed vaccine has been the cause of widespread panic. Many people are hiding in their homes and basements, having amassed great amounts of food, toilet paper, and other groceries in the fear of an apocalypse. Doomsday media outlets are not helping bring sanity and hope but instead are promoting panic and alarm. Travel bans, global financial crises, and country quarantines are all adding fuel to the fear-filled fire.

How should the Christian respond to all of this?

A NEW OPPORTUNITY TO DEPEND ON GOD

While we remain on alert against viruses and disease, worrying won’t change our circumstances or lower our chance of infection. It won’t help us fight off illness or move us to action. Worrying about COVID-19 (or anything else) will only increase trouble. Rather than worrying and being anxious, Jesus calls us to respond with prayer and faith in him (Matthew 6:33–34; Philippians 4:6). We need not worry ultimately because we know the One who has defeated sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:55–57).

Remind yourself continually: it takes the same amount of energy to worry as to pray. One leads to peace, the other to panic. [2]

Remember the Truth About God

  1. God is still on the throne (sovereignty): Job 42:2; Isaiah 46:9-10. R.C. Sproul used to say, “there cannot be a single maverick molecule anywhere in the universe that is outside of God’s sovereignty.”
  2. God saved us from fear and anxiety: 2 Timothy 1:7; John 14:27
  3. God promises peace: Isaiah 26:3; Philippians 4:6-7
  4. God numbered our days long before COVID-19 was on the scene: Psalm 139:16
  5. God is the Great Healer: Psalm 103:3 (this is descriptive, not prescriptive).
  6. God has a plan for His children: Romans 8:28
 

A NEW OPPORTUNITY TO REACH OUT

In times of crisis, the world needs help and hope. We can provide both. As Christians, we are to reach out to people in need and help them in both practical and spiritual ways. Hebrews 13:16 says, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” We must not be so concerned for our own welfare that we will not minister to others (Philippians 2:3). Hiding in basements, stockpiling food and supplies, and distancing ourselves from others is not how believers should behave.

It is at times like these that our light shines brightest because it stands in stark contrast with wide-eyed fear, darkness, anxiety, and death. The world should see in us divine strength (Ephesians 6:10), a hope that comes from above (1 Peter 3:15), and a willingness to serve others even in the face of danger (Acts 15:26).

This is a good time for Christians to demonstrate sanity, peace, and hope, recognizing that our lives do not depend on the entry of a micro-organism into our bodies. Instead, it depends on the God who determines the beginning and the end of our history on earth.[3]

As you look for opportunities to minister to the sick or fearful, speak about the greater global epidemic – sin. Let the COVID-19 situation be a catalyst to speak about spiritual matters. The greatest need any individual has is not a cure for the Coronavirus, but salvation from their sin through Jesus Christ.

May God grant us the boldness and opportunities to move beyond merely ministering to physical maladies, but to also address the far weightier spiritual and eternal realities.

Ideas for Practical Outreach

  • Talk openly with people about their fears and anxieties. Offer to pray for them (right there on the spot)
  • Be generous and meet the needs of others e.g. a roll of toilet paper, a little hand sanitiser, paper towel, etc.
  • Write cards to people who you know are experiencing fear and remind them that you are available to listen to their concerns.
  • Write a note to the medical practitioners, paramedics, and nurses in your area expressing thanks to them for their efforts on the front line of this epidemic. Perhaps you could commend them for their years of study, service, and willingness to put themselves in danger for the wellbeing of their community.
  • If you are actively involved in a church, encourage people to bring to the church building items that promote hygiene which can then be dispensed to members of the community as the need arises.

WISDOM AND GENTLENESS

As Christians, we must not be reckless, but we also must not be paralysed by fear. It is essential we take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves and our families, but not to the disregard of others.

In Matthew 10:16, Jesus sent out His disciples into a volatile Roman world where they would be as “sheep in the midst of wolves”. He commanded them to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” These unusual similes contained two important truths which are applicable to the COVID-19 situation today: (1) be wise, shrewd, and cunning (positively) as you interact with society and particularly in times of persecution and affliction; (2) be harmless, innocent, and gentle as you relate to people.

In other words, exercise wisdom and gentleness as is befitting the child of God.

BEING SENSITIVE TO OTHERS

As this epidemic continues, be socially sensitive. It may not be the best idea to “greet one another with a holy kiss” (2 Corinthians 13:12). Sensitivity, empathy, and understanding are all character qualities of the Christian and must be extended in all we do.

In this regard, we must be careful not to judge others. Through fear, many may feel the need to wear masks, avoid shaking hands, and even act uncharitably. In grace, we must demonstrate the love of Christ to them, even if they are fellow-Christians who are weaker in their faith (Romans 14:1-11).

For church goers, if you are sick or are showing any type of flu-like symptoms, in the interest of public safety, hygiene, and perceptions, and because we love one another, please stay home.

PRACTICALITIES FOR OUR CHURCH (MCCBC)

MCCBC leadership is monitoring the COVID-19 situation in our state and when or if the Government Health Authorities mandate a limit on public gatherings, we intend to comply.

At this time, there is no indication that we will need to cancel any church events. However, as COVID-19 is a new virus and there is no approved vaccine as yet, we are actively taking reasonable precautions as it spreads.

While we do not want to be alarmists, we do want to be proactive and prepared where we can be. If you are sick or are showing any type of flu-like symptoms, please stay home.

We hope to be able to livestream our services so that those who are unwell can still be part of the worship from their homes. We encourage you to follow the health practices listed by the Health Authorities to keep everyone safe.

Specific Practicalities

  1. Hand sanitiser stations throughout the building.
  2. Air purifiers on order (Country Tech).
  3. Cleaning of air conditioner filters.
  4. Antibacterial wipes/sprays for surfaces.
  5. Limiting physical contact at individual’s discretion.
 

A REMINDER THAT JESUS IS COMING AGAIN

In Luke 21:10-11 and Matthew 24:8, we are reminded that world-wide pestilence and disease epidemics point to the return of Christ. Of course, we do not know the day or hour (Matthew 24:36), but as these events become more extreme and in closer succession, we are reminded that they are the “beginning of the birth pains.”

The imminent return of Christ should bring great joy and excitement to the heart of the believer, even in the midst of global panic. May the extreme nature of the COVID-19 cause our minds and eyes to look heaven-ward, from where we “await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20).

HELPFUL ARTICLE LINKS

https://answersingenesis.org/human-body/coronavirus-biblical-practical/

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/christians-anxious-coronavirus/

https://banneroftruth.org/us/resources/articles/2020/a-christian-response-to-the-corona-virus/

HELPFUL SERMONS/PREACHING

http://www.hillsbiblechurch.org/sermons/biblical-perspective-on-covid-19/

 

 

 

[1] Taken from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/what-we-know-coronavirus/

[2] Taken from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/christians-anxious-coronavirus/

[3] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/what-we-know-coronavirus/

 



Discipleship in the Local Church

The Discipleship Mandate

It is the responsibility of every Christian and every Church to be engaged in discipleship. This is not an “accessory” which we can opt in or out of, it is a mandate given to the apostles at Christ’s ascension, and to us by derivation (Matthew 28:19-20).
 
To that end, time is spent  every week developing a specific discipleship series for our church. The introduction and lessons are included below for your edification. The present study is based upon Peter’s first epistle, and new lessons will be uploaded as they become available. 
 
This material is not  copyright and distribution is encouraged.  Read more…


An Open Letter to the Wife of the Pastor

Dear Wife of the Pastor,.

You are an unsung hero in the church! Rarely is your exceptional ministry noticed, let alone commended. I am writing to you because you need regular encouragement, and most Christians are unaware of your unique burdens, trials, and the strain that your husband’s ministry places upon you.

Please be assured of the fact that your labour is not in vain in the Lord,[1] and in due course you will be rewarded if you faint not.[2]

This personal note is written to remind you about the truths of your ministry at home and your involvement in the local church. These have been organised into five different headings so that the points are clearly defined and easy to follow.

May this letter encourage you and help your church to pray and support you most effectively. You are loved; you are appreciated; you will be rewarded.

YOU ARE THE WIFE OF THE PASTOR NOT “THE PASTOR’S WIFE”

How often have you been called “The Pastor’s Wife” despite the fact that no such title exists in the Bible? Well-meaning people raise you to a place of prominence because of your husband’s responsibilities, but they do not realise that you were never called to the ministry. 

What churches often fail to see is that the pastorate is not the responsibility of a man and his wife. In fact, the Bible has nothing to say about one who is married to a pastor except that which relates to all Christian wives. When assemblies elevate the wife of a pastor, they are unknowingly setting her up for failure because of the unachievable (and unbiblical) expectations they place upon her. She is not an office-bearer in the church and must be protected from being viewed in this position.

Perhaps the greatest danger associated with assigning an unbiblical title is that she will lose her unique, God-given identity. She is not seen for who she really is, but for what is expected of her. Her temperament, talents, and individuality are held hostage by perceptions of her ministry. This leads to great anguish of spirit and if left unattended, may result in serious mental health issues.

YOU MAY NOT HAVE THE SAME SPIRITUAL GIFTS

Sadly, most Christians expect the wife of the pastor to possess the full gamut of spiritual gifts so that she can speak eloquently at women’s conventions, organise special church events, counsel women effectively, provide outstanding food, plan and coordinate the creche ministry, be constantly given to hospitality, and always filled with joy and energy. This is simply not the case. In fact, it seems like there is greater expectation these days placed upon the wife of the pastor than the pastor himself.

You must remember that you are first and foremost a wife. Whether or not you are gifted to teach is a secondary matter, and this must be remembered by the church. Practically speaking, this means that your primary responsibility is to manage the home and be submissive to your husband.[3]

Every Christian has been given at least one spiritual gift,[4] and this includes you, but the church must be very careful that you receive the same treatment as all people in the assembly. It is important that you are afforded the privilege of discovering what your particular area of service is, rather than being shaped by the expectations of others on account of your connection to the pastor.

YOU HAVE NO AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH

Some ladies who are married to a pastor revel in their “derived authority”, whilst others shudder at the thought of having to make decisions in the church. On either end of this scale there is a spiritual misunderstanding. The Scriptures make it clear that only biblically qualified men in the local church are conferred any authority, and this leadership has very specific commands and guidelines.[5]

YOU NEED PRAYER AND SUPPORT

Although you may not have been called into the ministry in the same way your husband was, you have been given a very unique and challenging area of service. Most of your ministry is not seen by the public, and the majority of the struggles are behind closed doors. Listening to your husband’s daily interactions, offering love and support to him when he is discouraged, and “lending” him to the church many nights each week are just some of the burdens you face on a regular basis.  By its very nature, your ministry is fraught with loneliness and often means that it is difficult to maintain close friendships with ladies in the church. On top of this, you must be ready at a moment’s notice to have people in your home who need counselling from your husband. Even date nights and time that is set aside for relaxing together can be interrupted when serious matters arise. If your husband is not fully supported by the church and outside work is required, this presents another dimension to an already complicated life which you must come to terms with.

Many people pray for their pastor and so they should.[6] However, most neglect to pray for the wife of the pastor and this is largely because they do not understand where you fit in the local church, and the enormity of your responsibilities at home. It is important that you operate with honesty and humility so that people are educated in how to support you and pray for you. This means that you must share (wisely) the burdens and struggles you face on a weekly basis with carefully selected people.

YOU HAVE A FRONT ROW SEAT IN THE MINISTRY

Most of this letter has been spent correcting misconceptions surrounding your life and ministry. At this point I would like to remind you that you have the unique privilege of a front row seat in the ministry. If you are not careful, you will paint your husband’s ministry in bleak and cheerless colours when in actual fact, it is the highest calling in all the world. To peak behind the curtain a little and to see in greater detail God’s work of sanctification in your local church is an unparalleled joy. Watching your husband- the man of God, study, pray, preach, counsel, and minister to people is a rare and wondrous blessing. To see firsthand how God changes people and to work alongside the servant of the Lord is a sacred and unique responsibility. Don’t let the burdens and hardships rob you of the joy associated with your special calling to be the wife of a pastor.

In Sincere Love and Appreciation,
 

Pastor Daniel Kriss

[1] 1 Corinthians 15:58

[2] Galatians 6:9; 2 Corinthians 5:10

[3] Titus 2:5

[4] 1 Peter 4:10

[5] Refer to 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9

[6] 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

This letter is dedicated to my wife, Jessica, who has served by my side in the ministry for many years



Lessons from a Dinner Party: The Sacrificial Life

TEXT: Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8

Introduction

In our first message, we joined Mary and Martha at a dinner party in Bethany. In that lesson, we learned the priority of worship and communion with Christ. Now we attend another dinner party in Bethany, this time at Simon the Leper’s home. The narrative includes the following characters: Jesus, Martha, Mary, Lazarus, Simon the Leper, and the disciples.

Join me as I preach the second in our two-part series today entitled: Lessons from a Dinner Party #2: The Sacrificial Life.

Context

Most commentators believe that there exists about a 2-month gap between the end of John 11 and the start of John 12. I mention this because in John 11 Lazarus is raised from the dead, and in John 12, he is still alive and reclining at dinner with the Lord Jesus.

The apostle John tells us that this passage is only six days before Christ’s arrest and subsequent death (John 12:1).

It is the sabbath and Jesus is invited to celebrate it with His friends in Bethany before His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the next day.

It is precious to observe that Martha is here serving. She had not got bitter and twisted by the Lord’s former comments which we read earlier. I know many Christians who would have simply thrown in the towel, but Martha is back doing what she loves, and it appears that she had learned the lesson Christ had taught her. Furthermore, we see that she is serving in a different household now. Not only had she responded well to the Lord’s loving rebuke, her ministry had increased to serving, cooking, and helping in other people’s homes!

Mary’s Sacrificial Gift was Extravagant

“Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair (John 12:3).

“A woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table” (Matthew 26:7).

“A woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head” (Matthew 14:3).

“Spikenard” or “pure nard” was a perfume derived from the very small and tender root of the Nard Plant found in India. The fact that it was pure meant it was genuine and unadulterated, which is what made it so costly.

Most commentators believe that this ointment was Mary’s dowry or inheritance. It was worth somewhere in the vicinity of a man’s annual wage.

It is important for us to note that the pure nard was housed in an alabaster flask (not mentioned in this account). This too, was of significant value. This long-necked bottle was made from a special variety of marble, a material which proved to be the best container for preserving expensive perfumes and oils. Once broken, it could not be re-sealed.

Mary had no intention of a partial sacrifice – it was everything!

Not only did Mary anoint the Lord Jesus with this precious substance, but she also broke the seal to this expensive container.

The Bible tells us that Mary poured the perfume over the head of Jesus (Mark 14:3; Matthew 26:7). Jesus explains that this anointing pointed to His death and the embalmment of His body. 

In just a few days, the Lord Himself would be broken like the alabaster flask and be poured out for the sins of His people. 

The Apostle John records for us a unique aspect to this account. We are told that Mary also “anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair” (John 12:3).

Another important principle is seen in this act. Paul tells us that the “glory of a woman is her long hair” (1 Corinthians 11:15), and Mary laid her glory at the feet of Jesus.

Application:

True worship comes at a great cost. Too many Christians today are unwilling to present themselves as a living sacrifice.

Consider the sacrifice Christ made for us. Consider what it cost.

Mary’s Sacrificial Gift was Fragrant

“The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3).

Mary’s gift filled the house with a beautiful aroma. Its fragrance permeated everything. Beginning with Jesus, transferred to Mary, and then to those who observed this scene of worship.

Does this not present a glorious analogy? When Christ is worshiped, the worshipers themselves carry away something of the fragrance of that moment. No house is so filled with pleasant aroma as the house where Jesus is given His rightful place.

The fragrance of Christ is conferred to all who worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Application:

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2)

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15).

God was well-pleased with the sacrifice of His Son, it was a fragrant offering. God was well-pleased with Noah’s sacrifice, it was a “soothing aroma” (Genesis 8:20).

Is God well-pleased with your life of sacrifice? Does it spread the knowledge of Him everywhere?

Mary’s Sacrificial Gift was an Irritant

In all three accounts (Matthew, Mark & John), we find that Mary’s sacrificial gift was an irritant. It upset people.

Matthew tells us that the disciples were indignant (Matthew 26:8); Mark tells us that some believed the ointment had been wasted and scolded Mary (Mark 14:4,5); John points out that Judas Iscariot was upset because an opportunity had been lost to sell the perfume for personal gain (John 12:4-6).

The lesson here is that sacrificial worship irritates and infuriates those who are disinterested in living the worshipful life. They will see sacrifice as a waste and justify their foolishness by appealing to other ways the gift could be used.

Illustration:

I remember years ago I was in discussion with a worldly Christian who asked what I wanted to do when I grew up. I explained that God had called me to the ministry and that I was eager to serve Him. The older man was disappointed. He had just attended an event where I had sung. He said to me, “there is so much more to life, don’t waste your gift on the church, you could be famous.”

Worldly Christians despise sacrifice. They loathe the thought of laying our all at His feet. They see no value to surrender and have never experienced the deeper life in Christ.

At this juncture, it is important to remember that though our sacrifice be an irritant to many, Christ commends it!

“Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me” (Matthew 26:10).

The world may despise you; some believers may mock and ridicule you; Christ commends you because true worship and sacrifice is a beautiful thing.

This is never more clearly seen than in the sacrifice of Christ. It was an irritant to all who hated Him, but for us who believe, it is the most beautiful thing in all the world!

Mary’s Sacrificial Gift was Permanent

Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her” (Matthew 26:13).

“And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her” (Mark 14:9).

Mary’s act was immortalised. This was not Mary’s intention, nor had she set out to make a name for herself. However, this sacrificial act, which was conducted in humility, love, and worship, had everlasting consequences.

Is there not a clear application here? Do not our genuine acts of worship and sacrifice transcend time and space? Are they not the gold, silver, and precious stones that endure?

Application:

This morning we dealt with the importance of worship, and now we have considered the importance of sacrifice. On this 21st anniversary of Mt. Cathedral Community Baptist Church, it has been my intention to remind us of what matters most – worship and sacrifice. From these comes our service, but never apart from them.

May God help us to be ever found worshipping and offering ourselves as living sacrifices in His service. I close this special day with a poem by Charles Thomas Studd, the British cricketer and missionary to China.

Only One Life – By C.T. Studd

Two little lines I heard one day,

Traveling along life’s busy way;

Bringing conviction to my heart,

And from my mind would not depart;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Only one life, yes only one,

Soon will its fleeting hours be done;

Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,

And stand before His Judgement seat;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Only one life, the still small voice,

Gently pleads for a better choice

Bidding me selfish aims to leave,

And to God’s holy will to cleave;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Only one life, a few brief years,

Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;

Each with its clays I must fulfil,

living for self or in His will;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

When this bright world would tempt me sore,

When Satan would a victory score;

When self would seek to have its way,

Then help me Lord with joy to say;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Give me Father, a purpose deep,

In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;

Faithful and true what e’er the strife,

Pleasing Thee in my daily life;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Oh let my love with fervour burn,

And from the world now let me turn;

Living for Thee, and Thee alone,

Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Only one life, yes only one,

Now let me say, “Thy will be done”;

And when at last I’ll hear the call,

I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;

Only one life,’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 



Why I Can’t Participate in the World Day of Prayer

The World Day of Prayer falls on the 8th of March this year and I will not be in attendance. This paper is my attempt to explain the reasons why I cannot participate. As always, I welcome your feedback, and pray that these thoughts would be carefully and prayerfully considered.

Prayer is an essential activity for the Christian. Every believer should participate in prayer, both privately and corporately.[1] Failure to do so is to live in disobedience and drift from close communion with the Lord. Since prayer is vital to Christian living, and corporate prayer is exemplified in the Scripture, why am I not supportive of The World Day of Prayer? After all, isn’t it a good thing for people to get together to pray? As a pastor, should I not be excited at this movement whose aim is to “bring together people of various races, cultures and traditions in a yearly common Day of Prayer?”[2] Hopefully the thoughts that follow will provide a biblical basis for why I cannot participate in the World Day of Prayer. Read more…



Lessons from a Dinner Party: The Priority of Worship & Communion with Christ

TEXT: Luke 10:38-42

Introduction

Last week was Vision Sunday. During that service we were greatly encouraged to hear from different people in our church as they presented the areas of ministry that they will oversee this year. It is certainly an exciting time in the life of our church.

As I considered this throughout the week, I was both cheerfully optimistic and soberly contemplative. Let me explain. My heart is full of joy at the thought of people willingly entering into service for the Lord, but at the same time I am very aware that ministry can be a distraction from the most important thing – fellowship, worship, and communion with Christ.

We have spoken a lot about balance in recent days, and this message will again help us find the “centre of the see-saw” when it comes to worship and service.

Last week we deployed many people into areas of ministry and this message is timely because it will help us to understand how worship must precede service if it is to be honouring to the Lord.

Join me as I preach the first in a two-part series today entitled: Lessons from a Dinner Party #1: The Priority of Worship & Communion with Christ. Read more…



The Ministry of Reconciliation

TEXT: 2 Corinthians 5:10-20 |  VIDEO LINK

Those not acquainted with biblical theology suppose that there is a contradiction between God’s sovereign election of sinners to salvation, and the essential ministry of evangelism.

As you know, I am absolutely convinced that God in His infinite wisdom ordained/chose/elected some of His image-bearers to salvation. This is not unfair or unjust because “God is in the heavens; [and] he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3).

Because this doctrine is incredibly humbling, it is repudiated by those that are proud and do not want to relinquish control of their so-called “free will.”

On the flip side, believing that God is sovereign, and that all who He has chosen will eventually enter into His fold, must not be permitted to bring about laziness, disobedience and carelessness.

As with all doctrines, when the pendulum swings too far in any direction, there will always be a misinterpretation of God’s revealed truth.

When it comes to evangelism, there are basically three schools of thought:
 
1. ARMINIANISM (Extreme #1)
It is my responsibility to save souls. This leads to guilt, creative methods, emotional invitations etc.
 
2. HYPER-CALVINISM (Extreme #2)

God will rescue His elect with or without me. This leads to laziness, disobedience, and carelessness

3. EVANGELISTIC PARTNERSHIP WITH GOD (Biblical Balance)The believer sounds the outward call and God issues the inward call (2 Corinthians 5:20; 6:1) 
 

I believe that the Bible clearly teaches that it is God who regenerates the sinner, but that He has entrusted to us the message that has the power to bring about the new birth. In this sense, we are in a very real partnership with God which began the moment that we first trusted in Him.

We are never held responsible for the sinner’s decision, but we are commanded to preach the gospel. We are not to lose sleep over our failures in eloquence or articulation of the message, but we should be concerned with being faithful to this ministry of reconciliation.

We have talked a lot about different church ministries that are being launched today as part of our Vision Sunday. However, it is important to know that there is a ministry that EVERY believer is appointed to the moment they are saved – it is the Ministry of Reconciliation.

This is to be our primary occupation. We are to pursue souls; chase after the lost; use our resources, gifts, and time in this precious endeavour; We are to be faithful, fervent, and frequent in our evangelistic efforts.

Our Theme for 2020 is “The Ministry of Reconciliation” and being “Ambassadors for Christ”, and these are the subjects I wish to broach today. Join me as I preach a message entitled: The Ministry of Reconciliation. Read more…



Denominations, Distinctives, & “Babel Theology”

PREACHING TEXT: 1 Timothy 3:15 | READING TEXT: 1 Timothy 3:14-4:16

Let me introduce our subject today by presenting three real-life illustrations that took place this past week.

ILLUSTRATION #1

On Friday, I had occasion to meet with a lawyer in Melbourne for the purpose of updating our church constitution, something I have been promising to do for a couple of years. During this initial meeting, we discussed the “type” of church that we are, some of our distinctives, and even what the differences are between the major denominations. Throughout the conversation it became apparent that this man, like many Christians today, believed It would be so great if everyone could just get on. He expressed a desire to see (what I call) a “Babel Theology” established where all people could “build together”, and all differences set aside for the common good.

ILLUSTRATION #2

Yesterday, I read an article published on the Baptist Union of Victoria Website which was written by the Pastor of Koondrook-Barham Baptist Church.[1] My intention in reading this article is not to assassinate anybody’s character, not is it pass unnecessary or unscriptural judgement, but rather to give you an illustration for what we are going to consider today.

The Pastor writes:

On Christmas Eve 2019 the Koondrook-Barham Baptist Church joined with the local Anglican, Catholic and Uniting Churches to present Carols by Candlelight at Riverside Park, Barham.

Bernard Blumel, pastor of the Baptist Church welcomed everyone. Scripture readings and prayers were presented by the Anglican and Uniting Churches and a message of hope was delivered by Father Stan from the Catholic Church. At the end of the night the Lions Club conveyed their thanks to the Churches for the great community event and invited us to join them Christmas Eve 2020.

ILLUSTRATION #3

Since my Glorious Gospel Website[2] went live, I have been the subject of enormous hostility. Now I expect that from the world, but when so-called Christians stand in active defiance to the clear teaching of Scripture, my soul is sorely vexed. A man whose name I will not mention publicly, who is a retired pastor and chaplain, started messaging me privately during the week. He was initially cordial towards me, but after a few interactions, changed into a blaspheming, swearing, antagonistic detractor. He accused me of all manner of things in some of the most colourful language I have ever heard, all in the name of Christ. His “beef” with me was my biblical standpoint on cultural issues, and my unwillingness to embrace the “modern world” with it concepts and practices.

INTRODUCTION

Over the past 8 years of pastoring MCCBC, I have been given all manner of labels from other church groups in our community. I keep these in a folder in my filing cabinet. I have been called: The “fuddy duddy”, hyper-calvinist, extremist, fanatical, radical, Biblicist, misguided, heretical, exclusive, cult leader, and my favourite: old-fashioned-Bible-thumping-wingnut.

Over the years, I have been asked: Why won’t we “join” up with other churches? Why can’t we have a “united front”? Why can’t we be part of a combined church Carols event? Why don’t I get behind “Christian organisations”? Do I think that MCCBC is the only true church?

Some have told me that denominations and distinctives are the enemy because Christ called us to unity; doctrine divides, love unites. Pastors have said, only preach that which is encouraging so that people in the community would feel welcome, don’t preach about issues that divide, be culturally sensitive.

The way I see it, the pastor has three main jobs: (1) Define the Faith by means of evangelism and preaching; (2) Develop the Faith in God’s people by means of clear exegetical teaching and preaching and; (3) Defend the faith by warns of warning and exhorting the flock based upon sound biblical truths and principles.

As a pastor, I do not answer to you, but to the Lord. I am not primarily concerned with whether you like what I say or whether it makes you “feel” good. I am not worried about whether the community consider me to be a nutcase, or whether other churches would speak ill of me. If I were concerned about polls of popularity, I would not be a pastor. I am primarily concerned with the truth, and teaching you how to discern right from wrong, so that you might honour Christ with your life.

The greatest problem in the church today is a lack of discernment. This exists because the church (on the whole) has moved away from the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Scriptures. As you will see from our text, the church is not living up to its biblical identity as the pillar and buttress of the truth. In general terms, it is more like a cubby house made of cardboard which is blown about by every wind of doctrine. It moves with every cultural stir, the breeze of every new idea, and the movements it incurs, are not Holy Spirit sent, but are the devil’s breath.

Today there is a tendency to think of Christianity in the reduced terms of Christ’s death and resurrection. Whilst that is part of the gospel, it is decidedly much more than that. The true Christian life is a confession of truth and faith (1 Timothy 3:16), a proclamation of God’s Word, a seeking after the “Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

I love the church; I’ve given my life, gifts, energy, finance to the church. God has called me to pastor a local church, and it is the great joy of my life. It is because I love the church and the Word of God that I must speak out against all that seeks to stand opposed to either.

This morning I want to teach on a subject I’ve entitled: “Church Denominations & Distinctions and Babel Theology”.

CHURCH BEHAVIOUR MATTERS

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:14-15

BehaveVerb. “to act or conduct oneself in accord with a defined standard.”

The purpose of Paul’s writing to Timothy was to give clear direction as to the type of behaviour that God demanded from His church.

The context speaks specifically of the meeting together as a local church but can also be applied in the broader sense of individual church member’s behaviour.

Clearly, Paul sees the church behaviour as an essential truth because he writes an entire letter about it.

What we do, how we do it, and why we do it, is so important to understand.

Practicalities:

  • How we worship?
  • Who leads and how?
  • What is included in our church activities and order of service?
  • How we dress is spoken of in the Scripture
  • Who is permitted to preach/teach and pray in the general service?

There is much room for creativity, personality, methodology, but there are also clear parameters in the Scripture when it comes to what we do, and how we do it.

Am I saying singing anything other than hymns is wrong? NO! But I am saying that obscuring the words with noise, entertainment, club-style “worship” is wrong. Singing songs which magnify the flesh, elevate the “worship leader”, or are full of theological errors is wrong.

Am I saying that wearing suits and long dresses to church is the only biblical model? NO! But I am saying that immodesty is always wrong, and appropriateness and giving honour to the Lord in what we wear is important.

Am I saying that short sermons are wrong? NO! But I am saying that little sermonettes from unchanged people who promote self esteem, self worth, driven by emotion, and without biblical truth are wrong.

Am I saying that women have no place in the church? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But I am saying that Scripture tells us that a woman is NOT to preach or teach in the general assembly of the church.

We do not seek to be yoked to unnecessary legalistic bondage, but we do seek the approval of Christ in what we do and how we do it.

CHURCH IDENTITY MATTERS

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:14-15

Householdnot a building, chapel or cathedral, but a people, a family – the place where God dwells.

God does not dwell in a building; He dwells in His people, and when those people congregate together, there is a manner in which worship should take place.

Church – A “called out people”, set apart, holy, sanctified.

A quick survey of “church” today demonstrates a complete identity crisis. Almost every book you read on the church today deals with the importance of being relevant, culturally applicable, and interesting (and entertaining) to society.

The Bible takes a backseat (if it is even there) because it is an old book which no longer has relevance to our changing spiritual climate; Old fashioned preaching is replaced with “feel-good sermonettes”; The prayer meeting is substituted for “little talks with Jesus”; Evangelism is nothing short of inviting people to a time of entertainment, jokes, and some catchy tunes, and; the pastor is a man (or women) who is more like a Rockstar in a tank top, ripped jeans, with blonde tips, who delivers a weak, watered-down message that is unable to save souls, and then drives off in his/her corvette. This is not church. This is nothing short of blasphemy!

CHURCH DOCTRINE MATTERS

 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:14-15

The last part of verse 15 is an architectural illustration. Paul likens the church to a pillar and buttress which both signify reinforcement and strength within a structure.

Pillar: A post or column most commonly associated with a large structure. E.G. The marble pillars in the temple of Diana.

Buttress: Prop, foundation, support.

In this context, Paul explains that the church is the support mechanism that God has ordained to uphold His truth. It is not that the church is intrinsically the truth, or that whatever the church does is the truth, but that it has been established as a pillar and foundation to maintain God’s truth in the world.

Take out the pillar and the building collapses, and that is precisely what we are seeing!

Interestingly, the pillar in New Testament times was also a “noticeboard” which bore inscriptions and messages for the populace. Similarly, the church is supposed to bear the inscriptions of God and make known His message to the nations.

In other words, the church has two primary functions: uphold the truth and proclaim the truth.

The church is the pillar and support of the truth because it preaches it to the world, preserves it, and transmits it from generation to generation.”

Liberal “Christians” tell us that doctrine is divisive, and we need to focus on love and good works. They are right about the divisive nature of doctrine. However, they are wrong when they suggest that love and good works can truly exist without doctrine and truth.

Jesus made it clear that true love will submit to the commandments of God: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

The Apostle of Love (John) wrote:
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18).

READ 2 John – Take note of how many times the worth “truth” is used.

READ: 2 Timothy 3:10-17

We believe in the total governance, inerrancy, and sufficiency of the Scripture, and this affects what we do, and how we do it.

The Word of God promises to profit the believer in four important ways:

  1. Furnishing us with the doctrine or teaching about God, His will, His Son, His work, etc.
  2. Reproving us from wrong behaviour, error, false teaching, heresy, and the subtle tricks of the evil one.
  3. Correcting us by bringing restoration to our path when we falter, stumble or go astray.
  4. Instructing us to live in a way that honours the Lord.

 

CLOSING APPLICATION:

As the world continues in its moral decline and the “church” chases closely behind, we must be concerned with ensuring that what we do is carefully weighed against the Scriptures. Our church behaviours, identity, and doctrines need to find their source in the Word of God.

It is also important to remember that as the chasm widens between Biblical Christianity and contemporary church, we will subject to increasing hostility. This should not come as a surprise because “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

Lastly, MCCBC is not the “only good church left” by any means, but it is one of the few that actively seeks to submit itself to the TOTAL governance and sufficiency of the Scriptures.

Perhaps you are visiting with us, or reading these notes online, and are looking for a good church in your area. The most important aspect of any local church is its relationship to the Scriptures. If the Word of God is not central, then that church has shifted from its primary purpose as the pillar and buttress of the truth. It may have a great youth program, skilful musicians, and lots of money in the coffers, but it is not what God intended the church to be.

May God help us to be a faithful pillar and buttress of the truth in the midst of a world that is crumbling in moral decline all about us!



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